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Boys basketball: Eagles relishing shot at big stage in Class 4A

Broomfield's Spenser Reeb, left, drives on Golden's Leonard Holland during the Eagles' quarterfinal victory last week.
Broomfield’s Spenser Reeb, left, drives on Golden’s Leonard Holland during the Eagles’ quarterfinal victory last week.

BROOMFIELD — There is something special about Sox Walseth Court at the Coors Event Center.

Players’ dream of making last-minute, game-winning shots in the final two rounds of the state tournament at the arena. They visualize climbing up a ladder to snip down the net. And, of course, they desire to hoist the state trophy, with all their teammates, successfully finishing what they started nearly three months ago.

But for right now, Spenser Reeb has another facet to the championship venue he is looking forward to when he and the 25-1 Eagles take the court at 5:30 p.m. Thursday for the Class 4A boys Final Four.

“I just like the idea of playing in front of a big crowd,” the junior swingman said. “The crowd can have a lot of energy and can swing games. We’re hoping for a big Broomfield crowd and a lot of that energy.”

The Eagles have given their fans plenty of reasons for getting fired up and packing the stands for the team’s first appearance in the Final Four in four years. Broomfield has more than made the case it is the hottest team in the brackets on its way to facing fellow No. 1 seed Sierra (25-1).

Broomfield has swept through its first three tournament games with ease, winning each of its outings by double figures. Much of the Eagles’ success has hinged on the team’s deep and talented roster, with five different players scoring more than 10 points in the stretch. But few will argue one player’s game has been head and shoulders above the rest, despite being Broomfield’s shortest starter.

Forget different level, Austin Wood has been otherworldly in the tournament.

The 5-foot-10 point guard has slashed and shot his way to 66 points over the course of the past three games, setting career records the last two times he has taken the floor. The thrill of helping his team past what has been the sticky point the past two seasons, the quarterfinals, has been heartening to the senior. But it has given way to new pressures.

“At first, making it past the Elite Eight was a relief, but now it’s not,” said Wood, who will play at McMurry University in Abilene, Texas next season. “Now the state championship is something that I want.”

Broomfield taking the whole enchilada has its challenges, not the least of them Sierra.

The Colorado Springs program has had an impeccable season, losing only once this season behind its stingy defense and one of the state’s biggest players. University of Colorado men’s basketball recruit Wesley Gordon has averaged 20.3 points per game and the 6-foot-7 forward has the potential to create mismatches on the inside.

Even with a proven commodity such a Gordon, the Eagles are not breaking a sweat. This is not the first time Broomfield has trudged into the tall timber of future Buffs. The Eagles knocked off Lewis-Palmer — one of the three remaining 4A top seeds — earlier this season, despite the presence 6-foot-8 CU-bound center Josh Scott.

“The one thing we lack is a big post player,” Broomfield coach Terrence Dunn said. “But we make up for that with our team ethic. We have guys that are willing to play their role in that game, that quarter or that play.”

Nick Ongarato does not disagree with his coach’s appraisal of how a team with two returning starters from 2011 has made it so far. But he adds another reason why the Eagles are so dangerous, one a bit more abstract, but nonetheless potent — character.

“I knew we had a special team early in the season, around when we knocked off Lewis-Palmer,” the guard said. “We showed a lot of character in that game. We took them to overtime. We never stopped fighting. We don’t plan to now.”

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